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Central Iowa Will Get Next Generation Ethanol Plant

Central Iowa Will Get Next Generation Ethanol Plant

DuPont enters agreement to buy land at Nevada in central Iowa to build a commercial biorefinery, which will make ethanol fuel from corn stover instead of grain.

The central Iowa town of Nevada will be the home of one of the world's few next generation ethanol plants. The biorefinery will use corncobs, leaves and stalks as feedstock rather than grain.

DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DuPont, made the announcement in late June. The DuPont Danisco plant is the second cellulosic ethanol plant proposed to be built in Iowa. It will join a proposed Poet plant in Emmetsburg as one of Iowa's two next-generation refineries, to go along with the 40 corn grain-fed ethanol plants currently operating in the state.

The DuPont Danisco plant is expected to be operating by 2013. It will take 12 to 18 months to build, says Joe Skurla, CEO of the company. Documents filed with the state of Iowa show the investment would be $275 million.

DuPont had previously announced that the project would go to Iowa, beating out Nebraska. The Iowa Power Fund board approved a $9 million grant for the project in February. The town of Nevada has said it will provide nearly $8.7 million in tax abatement over 10 years. The Iowa Power Fund also agreed to provide $586,000 in job training assistance and $4.6 million in tax credits. The plant is expected to employ about 60 people when operational.

DuPont plant will be built next to Lincolnway Energy at Nevada

DuPont Danisco is buying the 57.75 acres of land from Linconlway Energy, an ethanol plant that uses corn grain to make motor fuel. DuPont had also considered placing the biorefinery near Fort Dodge.

"We are purchasing the site next to Lincolnway at Nevada because it will meet the business needs for our project, and provides potential economic and environmental synergies for both facilities," says Skurla.

DuPont Danisco is working with local farmers to get commitments for collecting cobs, leaves and stalks from their fields. The plant will need about 300,000 dry tons of stover annually. In field tests last fall, the project started collecting stover from Nevada area farmers and was able to collect up to 2 tons an acre.

DuPont also announces launch of 2011 Stover Collection Program

The DuPont Danisco company also announced that it is launching its 2011 Stover Collection Program, to enable a cost-effective supply of stover to be gathered for its biorefinery project. The firm is collaborating with Pioneer Hi-Bred, also a DuPont company, and Iowa State University, to establish best practices in harvesting, storage and transportation of the biomass feedstock, and to ensure the agronomic and environmental integrity of cornfields.

The cellulosic ethanol industry will provide opportunities for farmers to add value to their farming operations, says Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

To remain a leader in ethanol production, Iowa must find an efficient, cost-effective way to harvest the tons of biomass left on fields and turn it into biofuel, says Shaw and others involved in the renewable fuel industry. Federal renewable energy goals will require refiners in the United States to use 36 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2022, and much of that ethanol will have to come from sources other than cornstarch.

Cellulosic ethanol is already being produced sustainably, economically

DuPont Danisco is already producing cellulosic ethanol at a "pre-commercial" facility in Tennessee and will be working to scale their production up to the commercial level with the plant to be built at Nevada. "We're producing cellulosic ethanol sustainably and economically today and the market is ready and interested in moving up to large-scale biorefineries," says Skurla.

The process is designed to make fuel from a variety of cellulosic biomass, including corn and wheat stover, and energy crops, including switchgrass.

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